River Hills Foxhounds (PA) members in full hunt livery - with seasonal accessories - visited Quarryville Presbyterian Home earlier this month to share hounds, equines, and Christmas carols with the senior residents there. The festive group included Maybeline the mule, Dominic the burro, a tiny cur lap dog and plenty of foot followers of all ages to greet and perform for the delighted senior citizens.
The annual tradition began when longtime hunt member and former Master Leo Erb and his wife moved to Quarryville, and their daughter encouraged River Hills members to continue visiting after her parents had passed away. At least three residents today are former foxhunters.
River Hills member Trina Hatfield said, "We first carol from horseback just outside the main entrance, and that's also an opportunity for some of the older folks to meet our horses, along with the mini and burro. Then, we put the horses back in their trailers and return to carol inside."
Huntsman Greg Paxson handles hounds as the audience looks on. Charley Fox, center, also joined the merry choir.
Because some residents are unable to come out into the cold, the group then moves inside and travels to each floor of the facility. This requires hounds to navigate the elevators - a bit of a challenge - but lets every older person have a chance to enjoy the music and get some canine affection. Above, Alyse Stone in scarlet, Judith Gartland, and her daughter Sara Gartland in sidesaddle attire.
Hatfield laughed that the warm temperature inside the building leaves the formally-attired singers sweating by the time they've visited every resident, but she quickly added, "Of course, it's worth it just to be with the people at the home. We do it just for the sheer love of it.
"Many of the residents' extended families are also there when we visit, and it's just a real bright spot in their day."